When Slovenian referee Damir Skomina blew the final whistle during the Japan v Colombia game, everybody (including me) was impressed to see the Japanese fans staying behind, not just to celebrate along with their footballing heroes for their first ever World Cup win on European soil, but to clean up the rubbish they had made during the game.
It is amazing what fans leave behind after a football game, from bags of crisps, to half-eaten sandwiches, empty cigarette packs, empty plastic cups and the GSP stadium ‘favourite’ – empty peanut shells which seem to be all over the GSP terraces after a game.
I have been to a number of stadiums both here and abroad over the years and not only does no-one pick up their rubbish but they just drop it anywhere as if the stands are their landfill site even if a rubbish bin is within arms reach.
Why is it though that the Japanese take the trouble to clean up their mess? Why are they sticklers for cleanliness?
Some have attributed this to Kanso, the Japanese version of Feng Shui while others point to Shinto, one of the main religions in Japan, whose gods hate filth and adore cleanliness.
Personal hygiene is also of paramount importance in Japan with results from a recent survey by Onsen Medical Science Research Centre showing that 28 per cent of the 500 Japanese women asked bathe for between 20 and 30 minutes!
In most schools there are no janitors and the cleaning-up of classes is left to the pupils while every morning you can see various people sweeping and cleaning the roads around their neighbourhood or place of work.
Imagine parents’ reaction in Cyprus if schools asked kids to stay behind for 10 minutes to clean up their classrooms. It would be front page news in many news sites on how schools are turning our children into unpaid servants.
Perhaps the CyBC should ask for video footage of the Japanese fans cleaning up and air it with every chance they get in the slim hope that a fellow Cypriot will follow their lead. It’s highly unlikely but worth a shot.